This week’s post was written by Doug Post.
At work and at home, leaders live with purpose. Purpose is all about our direction and self-awareness. It’s about having a North Star to orient and guide us through the critical issues of life: confronting, choosing, pursuing, and facing reality. Living with purpose is also imminently practical. Imagine a busy employee juggling multiple work responsibilities, parenting a few kids, taking care of a home, contributing at church, and volunteering in her community. Leaders do all this without compromising their values – or their sanity – by living with purpose.
At Interstates, leaders align around our common purpose: the importance of “The Why,” our vision, servant leadership, and building relationships through our core values. Our leaders believe that when people throughout Interstates come to share in a larger sense of purpose, we are united in a common destiny. We realize a sense of continuity and identity not achievable in any other way.
Within this framework, Interstates leaders find their unique purposes – their personal mission statements – and they coach their people to do the same. Mission statements were discussed broadly in the late ’90s during an Interstates-wide discussion of Stephen Covey’s excellent book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. By 2003, writing personal mission statements had become the norm for Excellence in Leadership 1 (EIL 1) attendees who used FMI’s Developing Your Mission Statement and peer feedback to better understand who they were and to document their personal mission. This remains an EIL 1 goal today.
Writing a mission statement isn’t easy, but it is a powerful exercise in taking ownership of your life. As you grapple with the career component of your purpose, it’s good to consider questions like:
- What struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? It’s liberating to realize “everything sucks, some of the time.” If you want to be an entrepreneurial leader, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a big-time PM, but you expect a steady 40-hour week with no surprises, then you’re done before you start.
- What did you do for the sheer joy of it when you were a child? What makes you forget to eat and sleep today? You’re looking for the cognitive principles behind activities that enthrall you, e.g, self-competition, passion for improving things, organizing, generating new ideas, etc. They can easily be applied elsewhere.
- How are you going to save the world? What problems are you uniquely equipped to solve? For example, a friend of mine deeply understands the construction environment and finds purpose in improving the industry via day-to-day operations, challenging clients on the status quo, and contributing at industry conferences. Start saving the world by making a difference where you can.
- If you were given a one-year sabbatical, what would you do tomorrow? The enemy is complacency. It’s critical to understand that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it. If something strikes your interest, write it down, then go out and do it.
Living with purpose is knowing who you are, what your North Star is, how you will make decisions, and what your unique contribution will be. Interstates leaders live authentic lives and serve others. They take Abraham Lincoln’s warning seriously:
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Regardless of how cleverly you package yourself, others will eventually see through your masquerade and recognize you for what you really are.
Before that happens, know yourself and your direction.
Continue leading the Interstates Way! — Doug Post